The SADC region has a new qualification for Rangers, said to be the first of its kind in the world. The Anti-Poaching Ranger Qualification aims to equip rangers with world class skills to fight biodiversity crime, to cut out spurious training, and to give the entry-level practitioner a measure of pride and, hopefully, a career ladder. The Community of Expert Practitioners who worked for 30 months to create the qualification, was recently recognized at the Rhino Awards 2016, in the Best Awareness, Education or Funding category.
The nominator explained the importance of the qualification as follows: “Training providers can now for the first time educate Rangers to support and assist the Reserve managers/ Section Ranger /Joint Operational Centres / Game Rancher in protecting the integrity of a conservation area in line with current legislation, management plans, rules and guidelines through compliance with tactical, legal, safety and organizational requirement related to specialized operations to save our wildlife heritage”. Replacing the former qualification in Conservation Custodianship, the Anti-Poaching Ranger qualification is aimed at developing “a conservationist who fights like a soldier and a soldier who thinks like a conservationist”. Not surprisingly there has been some opposition to the qualification, but development is nearing completion as only one official step of 10 remains to be completed.
Environmentalists generally are finding it hard to make the time and resources available to come together as Communities of Expert Practitioners, as required by the South African Qualifications Authority and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, to develop qualifications through thorough and inclusive processes.